If you found them surprising – you need a good telling off.
I haven’t found these surprising at all. Not because I’m a consultant and I get to talk to a lot of people, but because I remember thinking these when I was an employee. I remember thinking these whenever I started a new job and was learning the ropes. I remember thinking these every time I made an assumption about a team member’s ability (or willingness) to complete a task.
I’m willing to bet that you did too, probably more than once in your career. You probably still do, from time to time.
Let’s do something about it.
Now that Inc. Mag has kindly taken the cat out of the bag for us and has provided us with some tips, here’s a slant on tackling some of those issues that go to the core of building and leading high performing team:
1. “We will make a better boss than you are.
Be collaborative. Make it okay for us to challenge how things are done and let us offer improvements. Beyond making it okay, truly welcome it and make sure you do it on a regular basis and try our suggestions. We will feel like you really listen to what we have to say and feel a bigger part of making the company better.
Also, get yourself introduced to the Theory of Jerks. Some of us are jerks, you should know how to handle us.”
2. “You should give us more training.
Yes, we say this all the time. Even when you do give us training! But that’s because you give us training you think we want, or your give us training you want us to have (for whatever reason…). We are all individuals and have different aspirations. Some of us want to head the teams, some of us want to be technical experts. The only way you will find out is by asking us.
Talk to us about what we want to achieve with you over the next 6 and 12 months and what training could be useful to achieving that.”
3. “You should hire better people.
Involve us in the recruitment process. We don’t know the dilemmas that you are faced with when you are recruiting. We don’t always know what you have to choose from. Sometimes, what you bring in is the best of a bad lot. Maybe we need to see it to know it, rather than blame you and complain about it.”
4. “You should be more flexible.
Inc. Mag has it right, and is backed up by statistics: you will save a lot of time and a lot of money by allowing us to start a couple of hours early so that we can fit that dentist appointment in the middle of the day. Even if what we need to do in the middle of the day is take a nap. Science says that’s good for you too.
We know that you are a bit concerned because some of us a jerks and/or will take the mickey. So be honest with us and we will be honest with you. Call us on it if you think it’s not conducive to productivity.”
5. “You should be more team-oriented.
We want you to be collaborative, but – between us – we should be clear on what collaboration is and how it works. We want to tell you what does and doesn’t work, but we don’t always can. You may need to give us some guidance about what does and doesn’t work, and be transparent with the reasons why. Sometimes you want something done because you know your way will work best. We may even understand that. Try us.
The reason being links back to us thinking we will be better managers than you: a lot of the times you come out with decisions that feel like they were made in the vacuum of space, far removed from the earth’s surface, where we toil to make things work. Tell us the what and the how and give us a real, honest why (listen to Simon Sinek, he knows) and we are far more likely to go along with your decision.”
6. “We want opportunities.
Let’s be clear. We are all individuals. We each have a different set of expectations that make for different opportunities. Talk to us about our jobs, about our career aspirations. You should be doing that to us more useful training anyway.
And be transparent about what can and cannot be achieved in our company. If I want to have your job in a few years’ time and you know that’s unlikely, tell me. You may find that having that conversation is better than the both of us playing Machiavellian tricks on each other.”
Yours truly, your team.
Answer your team – comment below!
If you have any questions or wonder what we can do to help – drop us a line.
Photo credit to joiedefrance who posted this utterly freaky antique jack-in-the-box on use.com.